South Korean ex-President Lee Myung-bak to stand trial for corruption

SEOUL, April 9 (UPI) — Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will stand trial on a slew of corruption charges, including bribery, tax evasion and abuse of power.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office announced Monday its decision to indict the former leader on 16 charges, making him the fourth president in the country’s history to face trial, YTN reported.

Lee has been accused of receiving $10 million in kickbacks, including $654,000 from the National Intelligence Service through his presidential aides and some $5.85 million from Samsung Electronics to cover lawsuit expenses for an auto parts firm called DAS, which he has been suspected of owning.

Prosecutors also believe Lee embezzled some $31.6 million through DAS to fund political campaigns and his household expenses.

Other charges include tax evasion, breach of trust and violating laws on presidential records.

A raid on the Seoul office of DAS last month uncovered more than 3,400 presidential documents in a secret storage room.

Lee, 77, has denied most of the charges against him, including the ownership of DAS, claiming the investigation is an act of political retaliation by the liberal Moon Jae-in administration.

After he was arrested by prosecutors who aimed to question him under detention, Lee refused to cooperate all three times, saying he cannot expect them to conduct a fair investigation.

Lee could be sentenced to at least 20 years in prison if he’s convicted of the charges on abusing presidential powers for personal gain, Yonhap reported.

Prosecutors are expected to widen their probe of corporate figures and members of Lee’s inner circle, who are believed to have offered him bribes.

They are said to be considering indicting his wife, Kim Yoon-ok, over allegedly delivering millions of won to Lee from Woori Financial Holdings.

Their son Lee Si-hyung is also likely to stand trial over embezzlement and breach of duty in relation to DAS.